Patrick Brown's Reviews > Lush Life

Lush Life by Richard Price
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Nov 25, 2007

it was ok
Read in December, 2007

I had high hopes for this book. I really only know Price's work from films (Clockers, Life Lessons (which is the first part of New York Stories)) and TV (The Wire), but I was looking forward to reading a book of his. I got a galley of this one (due out in March) and figured I'd give it a shot.

Lush Life follows several characters around the Lower East Side of Manhattan in the wake of a murder. The characters are well drawn and three dimensional, even some of the minor characters (I'm thinking of a beat cop of Chinese descent who appears at various points in the book). It's not hard to see why Price can successfully write for a show as complex as The Wire.

My complaint with this book really comes down to personal taste. The character I was least convinced by (and, therefore, least compelled by) was the father of the murder victim, who stumbles around this foreign neighborhood trying to avoid putting his life together by solving the murder. Price is fascinated by the man's grief, but I found him tiresome after only a few scenes. Perhaps this is because I'm still relatively young and don't have a kid of my own, but I couldn't access his grief. Unfortunately for me, the book lingered on him for huge stretches at a time.

Lush Life is evocatively written, bringing to life a specific slice of New York, one that represents the conflict many cities face, as the tide of gentrification pushes into more and more neighborhoods. It's worth a read, especially if you're a fan of The Wire (there's a hotel in the book named The Landsman), but it didn't set my world on fire.
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message 4: by brian (last edited Dec 15, 2007 10:18AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

brian   i'm lingering b/t pages 200 - 300 and feel exactly the same way. the dialogue is clever and certain scenes are inventive, but, goddamn, this has gotta be the dullest crime book i've read. i'm gonna put it down. life's too short. and yeah... i don't think age has much to do with your response to the murder victim's dad. we've all read portraits of grief and loss that have devastated us. this seems to be all sound and fury... not much else. which is, essentially, my overall feeling about this book...


message 3: by Jason (new)

Jason Well--y'all saw my review, and I couldn't disagree more. I think that father's grief is somewhat inaccessible but more crucially amplifies his pathology--his addictions. Or, maybe, it feeds his narcissism (which plays out in drink and irresponsible mourning), and what buzzed me about the book was really each character's pathology and self-obsession, everyone somewhat aware of their particular failings yet heedlessly repeating them.

...

I usually avoid pushing back on someone else's review, especially when pretty even-handed, and explicitly marked as a matter of taste. (What's the point? I'm having trouble digging Pelecanos, but I see what he's up to and why he'd be so very appreciated. I just don't feel the love, myself, but it's more fun to read about someone else's love than to try and convince them to love what I do.) Still... I guess I'm trying to urge some others to read--ahem Robert, Edan--despite Patrick and Brian's respective cold shoulders. Share my love!, he says bathetically!


message 2: by Edan (new)

Edan I'm still going to read it because the reviews are mixed here, which makes me curious, and because early on, Patrick told me Price structured scenes in innovative ways, which appeals to me.
I will probably read it in January, so stay tuned!


Angelo Haritakis Patricks Review:
My complaint with this book really comes down to personal taste. The character I was least convinced by (and, therefore, least compelled by) was the father of the murder victim, who stumbles around this foreign neighborhood trying to avoid putting his life together by solving the murder. Price is fascinated by the man's grief, but I found him tiresome after only a few scenes.

The above I agree with Patrick, other than that it was a great book - very similar writing to the Wire, which was the best thing on TV for years!


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